Proposed bill to allow commercial fishing in municipal waters nixed

Proposed bill to allow commercial fishing in municipal waters nixed

Manila, Philippines – A group of small fisherfolk organization on Tuesday has expressed opposition against House Bill (HB) 7853, seeking to allow commercial fishing vessels to enter between 10.1 to 15 kilometers inside the 15-kilometer municipal waters designated by the existing fisheries law for municipal fisherfolks engaged in subsistence fishing.

In a statement, fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) slammed the house bill as a “very very dangerous to the municipal fishery resources and disadvantageous to the municipal fishers”.

Commercial fishing vessels are those weighing 3.1 gross tons (GT) and above. Under the amended Fisheries Code of 1998, commercial fishing vessels are only allowed outside the designated 15-kilometer municipal waters.

“Commercial fishing vessels with advanced fishing technology and gear would outcompete small municipal fishers who engage in backward and Jurassic methods of fishing. Big fish vessels would wipe out and exhaust the resources in the municipal waters with all their might. That is why we hihgly oppose this measure proposed by a legislator who appear to have no background on fisheries,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Hicap, also former Anakpawis Party-list solon, added that his group, PAMALAKAYA, is supporting a House Bill 7524 filed by the Makabayan bloc, seeking “special protection to coastal fishing communities for sustainable small-scale fisheries in the country”.

“In stark contrast to HB 7853, HB 7524 seeks to protect coastal communities and municipal waters against all forms of profit-oriented and environmentally-destructive projects, including entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets within the municipal fishing grounds. We vow to support and uphold any bill that would be favorable to small fishers, and oppose any measure that is deemed disadvantageous to the already impoverished sector,” added Hicap.

The House Committee on Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources commenced its deliberations of the said House Bills today. ###

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